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 David Malangi  (1927 - 1999)

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Lived/Active: Australia      Known for: Aboriginal ceremonial body painting

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Ad Code: 3
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from Auction House Records.
Gurrimirringu the Mighty Hunter
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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

David Malangi

David Malangi was born in 1927 and for most of his life he lived with his extended family at Yathalamara in the Northern Territory. He passed away in 1999.

He was the head of the Manarrngu clan and one of the most powerful elders of central Arnhem Land. With the death of clan leaders who owned adjacent lands, Malangi inherited custodianship for vast tracts of land on either side of the Goyder River, thus inheriting the associated responsibilities for caring for sacred sites, recounting the journeys of both the Djangkawu creation ancestors and of the ancestor Gurrumurringu.

He began painting as a young boy, taught by his father and uncle to paint on bodies for ceremonies, on hollow logs for burials and later on stringybark. He was taught to paint the story of his creation ancestors and the stories that they sang in their ceremonies as well as his totems the sea eagle, crow, snake and goanna.

Malangi recalled: ‘I saw my father paint dead men’s (bodies) when I was a little boy and I copied’.

In 1966, when Australia adopted decimal currency, the central motif of the original dollar note was a direct representation of the Gunmirringu story from one of Malangi’s bark paintings. The artist knew nothing of this until he saw the note. The Reserve Bank later recognized his copyright and awarded him compensation and so began the recognition of Aboriginal copyright.

David Malangi was a prolific and highly individualistic artist whose work has been sought after by major international collectors since the 1960s. In style, his bold collection of individual imagery and shapes on a clear, red ochre or sometimes black background influenced several other central Arnhem Land painters.

He usually composed his paintings around vertical lines rather than a central circular image as favoured by most Central Arnhem Land painters, and used broader, bolder brush marks. His strong, graphic images, often thickly outlined in white, return to particular themes, always in differing formations with a high figurative content.

His work is in numerous collections in Australia and overseas.

"David Malangi", Aboriginal Art Online, (Accessed 2/26/2013)

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